THIRTY young people from the Shoalhaven, together with 10 local mentors, are preparing to walk the Kokoda Track.
The group will travel to Papua New Guinea (PNG) on September 27 as part of a project called Shoalhaven Kokoda Experience - 2008.
The group consists of a mix of youth leaders, students and indigenous young people who will be accompanied in PNG by experienced bush walkers, local porters and Shoalhaven community leaders.
One of the team members, Ailsa Schofield from Ulladulla, is an experienced trekker having earned her place on the summit of Annapurna in Nepal in 2003.
She said, like most Australians she grew up hearing about the Kokoda Track, and so decided to join the Shoalhaven Kokoda Experience group.
“This is a great way to do it, with a group of youths from the area.
“We’ve all been given a soldier who passed away to research so I’m sure that will enhance the historic side of it. It will give us a connection, it’s not just about going for a walk,” she said.
Support personnel for the project come from the education sector and the Defence Force and include a paramedic, a pharmacist and a doctor.
As part of the lead-up, participants are undertaking a number of activities such as adventure-based leadership courses, senior first aid certificate training, getting fit and teambuilding with a view to readying the group for the challenges that lie ahead.
These activities have included a weekend briefing and exercises at HMAS Albatross, an eight-kilometre walk at Burrill Lake and a weekend at HMAS Creswell that included first aid training and a 20 kilometre hike.
The Shoalhaven Area Consultative Committee is acting as the major coordinating body for the project, and is assisting with fundraising and sponsorship for the group.
Each participant is undertaking fundraising activities to help with the individual project costs of $5000.
On their return from PNG participants will write personal reports based on their trek diaries and undertake public speaking engagements.
For more information and details on how to become a sponsor for this project phone Milton Lay or Alan Mulley on 4422 9011.
The latest news on the project and the project participants is available at www.shoalhavenkokoda.com.au.